For The Tribune
Sam Hoff recalled when he was in middle school in Brownstown, during a physical education class the teacher had the students play tennis.
“I was awful at it, so I practiced the entire summer coming into my freshman year, and I tried out for the team,” he said, adding that he played in some junior varsity matches that fall
He also played in junior varsity matches his sophomore season, then moved into No. 1 doubles his junior year and is playing No. 2 singles this fall.
“There is a big difference because it’s all on you,” Hoff said of playing singles. “There is nobody you can communicate with. If you have a partner they can bring you out of your slump. You have to bring yourself out and have a lot of mental toughness when it comes to singles.
“There is a lot more running, too, and it’s physical. I like baseline and making people run. I’m more of a placement player, line-to-line each time. I like singles better than I did doubles just because it’s on me. I can’t blame anybody else. I need to get better. It keeps me in shape.”
One of Hoff’s strongest assets is his serve.
“I usually go for consistency,” Hoff said. “I just put enough pace on it to where they can’t kill it back at me, because coach always says if you get your first serve in it’s always better than your second serve.”
He said when you play on a windy day you have to adjust to the conditions.
“When the wind is at my back, obviously I have to lighten up or the wind is just going to carry it out,” Hoff said. “When the wind is at my face I just hammer it because I’ve got the wind playing with me and I can hit a lot harder shots.”
In warm-ups, Hoff looks for his opponents weaknesses.
“It’s a mental game,” Hoff said. “You’ve got to look at everything they do, how much top spin they put on their serves, whether they’re better at the net or better back, a hard hitter. You want to just not to play their game.
“Just like the kid I played from North Harrison. He was their No. 2. I beat him and he was real good. I was looking at him and saw how hard of a hitter he was so I just kept running him side-to-side so he couldn’t hit that power shot on me.”
For the Braves to challenge for the conference and sectional titles and have a winning season, they are going to have to have more wins out of a couple of positions that are filled by sophomores, Hoff said.
This spring, Hoff said he looks forward to competing in the 300 low hurdles and long jump as a member of the track and field team.
“The hurdles, just like tennis, are really challenging,” Hoff said. “It really tests my ability. When I first started, I about ate it on the last hurdle because how out of energy I was because it’s just a full out sprint.”
The senior has seen his times and distances improve.
“I’m doing a lot better now with my timing, I was real bad with that at the beginning because I had never ran track before,” Hoff said. “I was down to 49 seconds at the end of the season. I cut about 10 seconds off. Once I got my timing down I started shaving seconds off.”
Hoff said he also improved in the long jump, and had an 18-foot jump in a meet last spring. He said he hopes to top 19 feet in 2017.
Name: Sam Hoff
School: Brownstown Central High School
Parents: Eileen and Garry Hoff
Sports: Tennis, four years; track and field, two years
Plans after high school: Attend University of Southern Indiana, study radio and television
Organizations: Spanish Club, Sportsman Club
Highlights: Scottsburg Invite doubles champion
Favorite food: Steak
Favorite TV show: “Blindspot”
Favorite musician: Tech N9ne
Favorite movie: “Breakfast Club”
Favorite team: Indianapolis Colts